Name: Chris Horton
Date of Birth: 29th of June 1994
Weight: 102 kg
Pro Since: 2016
Club: Cholet Basket
Role: Mobile Rim Runner
Key Skills: Pick & Roll Finishing, Rebounding, Mobility
Chris Horton is a 25-year old big that averaged 17 points, 9 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.4 blocks in 34 minutes of action in France this year. Horton played in the G League, in Hungary and in Greece before he signed with Cholet – a situation where he enjoyed his best season so far as a pro. The American center was one of the main reasons why Cholet overachieved and finished in a remarkable 6th place – something that noone saw coming. His elite finishing ability at the rim meshed well with the outstanding playmaking of point guard Michael Stockton and gave defenses headaches for months. While his production was definitely inflated due to lack of depth and the fact that he had to play a lot of minutes, Horton showed that he’s able to consistently contribute on a high level and be a mayor force rolling to the rim.
PnR finishing / vertical threat. Horton is one of Europe’s best pick and roll finishers. He’s absolutely elite at catching the ball and dunking it with one or two quick steps and dangerous as a lob threat too. Over 60% FG. He likes to slip screens, makes himself available for the pass. Always one fluent motion, sprints to set the screen, quick slip, dime, aggressive rim attack. Not a great screen setter, but a really smooth and quick roller. Unstoppable with a good playmaker setting him up. Tremendous wingspan makes the difference.
Rebounding. He’s a really solid rebounder, especially considering his body. Not overly consistent with it, but tries to establish good inside position on both ends early. More of a wingspan, technique and mobility rebounder than a bruiser. Above average wingspan makes up for a lack of size at times. Able to pursue the ball on the offensive glass, crashes in from the midrange. Rebounding numbers this season are a bit inflated due to his playing time, but you can count on him to do a decent job on the boards on both ends.
Mobility. Good transition scorer, runs the floor extremely well for a big. Light-footed, above the rim finisher. Dunks it with ease. Fairly good switch defender. Explosive and quick as a rim roller. Has his moments as a mobile shot blocker.
Offensive upside / midrange potential. Not a natural pick and pop player, but capable of hitting shots from the midrange area. While he’s not good from the elbows, he’s really solid from both baselines with enough time and space. His shooting motion doesn’t look fluid at all times and his balance is wavering (especially when it’s not a simple catch and shoot), but having a decent counter to a passive defense can go a long way. He can get his shot off at any time due to his high release point and his fadeaway tendency too. Has some moments as a driver to his right if the defense closes out too hard.
Body + Postup Defense. Simply lacks bulk in order to really hold his own in the post over long stretches. Leans forward into his man to make up for the strength disadvantage, but invites spin moves and hasn’t been able to stop bigger opponents on a consistent basis. Even has to defend opposing 4’s when the matchup at center isn’t ideal. There are times when effort and wingspan lead to stops, but those will be even harder to get on the next level.
Postup Offense. Shows glimpses of a postup game from time to time, but basically a non-factor in his game. Has the potential to face up and go around his man, but loses balance and has no confidence in his hook shot. No reliable counter moves with his left hand either. Doesn’t have the strength and the body to back down guys all the way to the rim.
IQ/reading the game. Good player, but doesn’t stand out because of his Basketball IQ. Some late or unnecessary rotations on defense and a little overwhelmed on offense when he has to do quick and advanced reads. Overhasty midrange J’s tend to be his last resort. Could be better when he gets the ball in the short roll area, needs too much time to decide whether he wants to kick it out to a shooter or simply shoot the midrange jumper/drive to the rim when the defense isn’t fully committing. Has to be better at setting the right screen at the right time too. Slipping the screen works well for him, but doing it all the time isn’t the answer, especially when the defense is already preparing for that. Has to mix it a little bit better and be more reactive and more physical overall.
Chris Horton is a special player in a way that he really needs a great ballhandler around him to fully display what he’s capable of. The duo of him and Stockton only worked so well, because the latter found him basically anywhere, not only in the pick and roll but also in transition or as a vertical spacer near the rim. Stockton always had a dump off possibility and a mobile big that could finish, and offered enough shooting himself that the defense couldn’t help away from him to prevent the roll.
GM’s should be looking to duplicate that winning formular in a way, that they pair Horton with a savy PG, who can shoot if the defense goes under, drive when Horton slips the screen and pass even under pressure to get the best outcome of a possible 1-5 duo.
While the high production this year might indicate something else, Horton isn’t ready yet for the highest level in Europe. He lacks physicality, has trouble against bigger 5’s and posesses a midrange game that is still too fluky. While a shot at cracking an EL roster might not be there this summer, he should attract quite some offers from teams below that level. His one elite strength plus his other attributes offer so much, that (used in the best way possible) are hard to ignore.